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[Discussion] State of Unofficial Tours


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Hello fellow community members, as someone that likes hosting big tournaments with non existing prize pools, I'd like to start a discussion on what people want out of unofficial tournaments. I'll start with myself, cauz I'm just that important. To me unofficial tournaments are the heart of competitive battling in MMO. Officials are stale, single-elimination automated tournaments. They do not really challenge a player or force them to become better in any way. Larger tournaments that are not focused on single-elimination give players multiple chances to improve themselves and promote a healthier competitive scene overall. We cannot expect these kind of tournaments from staff, which is why I believe this is a key function of unofficial tours. Yet, I think I'm not in the majority in this mentality.

 

Some context: I've tried to host two OU tournaments (the most played tier). They were both based on several Swiss rounds with a double elimination bracket afterwards. One (23rd August) I tried to host in two days (saturday + sunday), the tournament itself had around 30 sign ups and in the end around 10 people showed up. The second tournament (last week) I tried to host had a similar structure but this time based on weekly scheduling (like PSL and PBS), which got 10 signups and was therefore cancelled. I've gotten feedback saying that players are tired of tournaments and that there needs to be a break between big tournaments. I don't really understand that when all you need to do is do 1 match per week, for tier tournies the prep required is minimal for veteran players. Besides that, the first tournament I tried to host was when there was no big tournament around at all, yet it didn't succeed.

 

So, I'm kind of scratching my head here. What does the community want out of unofficials? Like I said we cannot expect staff to give us larger tournaments based on single tiers. So why are these ideas being rejected when they are unofficial? Communities like smogon have a large pool of players on a high skill level, this is because Smogon offers multiple large tournaments throughout the year that players can compete in. Something for them to strive for. So if we want this community to improve, we have to have a similar 'competition calendar'. And for all these tournaments to work out, you need to have multiple tournaments running around the same time.

 

This is in my mind how a calendar like that could look:
 

Spoiler

 

January: PBS Start, PSL End

February: OU Cup Start

March:

April: PBS End, OU Cup End, UU Cup Start

May: NU Cup Start

June: World Cup Start, UU Cup End
August: NU Cup End, Doubles Cup Start

October: World Cup End, PSL Start

November: Doubles Cup End

December:

Something like this looks busy, but no player would participate in every tournament. So maybe at one point you'd have 3 matches a week max. Also no I wouldn't host all of these myself lol.

 

Maybe we simply don't have the playerbase for such ambitions. But I don't think that's the case, as we see PSL get to 100 signups easily and I have around 36 players in quite a niche format. Then maybe the playerbase is just not interested in competition like this, or maybe you guys think of tournaments very differently. So I just really want to know what you guys think of unofficials and their place in MMO.

 

Lastly unrelated to what I said above, but I don't want to start another topic. But many players have been asking for a PSL for players who haven't been able to get drafted, to prove themselves and get familiar with the PSL format. I could arrange a tournament like that and I think it would have the following sign up rules:

You may sign up as a player for the PokeMMO Challenger League (w.i.p.) if you meet one of the following conditions:

- You haven't been drafted in PSL XIII

- You have been drafted, but haven't won a game in PSL XIII

- You were a manager and wish to sign up as a player

 

You may sign up as a manager for the PokeMMO Challenger League if you meet the following condition:

- You haven't been a manager in PSL XII or PSL XIII. 

 

Does that seem like a good idea? Lemme know, peace.

Edited by ThinkNicer
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Speaking from my personal experience, I think ALWAYS being on a tournament on the beggining is exciting and you feel like you're actually improving, and while you may actually improve, you then get tired real fast. Sometimes the only thing you want is a break. Yes, maybe still play some games, maybe rankeds, but not having the compromise of a tournament, where you have to prep vs someone, you have to schedule and you have to actually attend to it. And right now I think some players are in like 38923 tours (Past psl, PBS, another tour that might be running I have no idea about, maybe playing on Smogon as well), so that can also be a factor for people not wanting to sign up for more tours rn. 

 

I'm not sure what I would propose to try to make all this better for players. I agree having a calendar with scheduled events might be a good idea, but the problem of tours overlapping and people wanting to take a small break or just not sign up to many tours might still be there. If people is what we want, then I'd suggest promoting this to players that maybe aren't top players or thaat good, but are still into competitive and want to actually improve. Competitive level might either stay the same or decrease at the beggining, but on the long run, these new guys will get good (if they're constant I guess) and we'll get both a bigger community and a more competitive one.

 

Buffing prices could also be a more motivating factor, but I mean getting that money for other tours that aren't named PSL is quite hard lmao. 

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33 minutes ago, Akaruyo said:

I'm not sure what I would propose to try to make all this better for players. I agree having a calendar with scheduled events might be a good idea, but the problem of tours overlapping and people wanting to take a small break or just not sign up to many tours might still be there. If people is what we want, then I'd suggest promoting this to players that maybe aren't top players or that good, but are still into competitive and want to actually improve. Competitive level might either stay the same or decrease at the beginning, but on the long run, these new guys will get good (if they're constant I guess) and we'll get both a bigger community and a more competitive one.

This.

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Donations are pretty much all the hype for big events. If you have a lot of events, the donations for each event will be smaller, so you simply can't have too much events at the same time and even in the year overall. Historically, only two events have been able to get significant donations: PSL and World Cup. For a new type of event to work, it needs to be very interesting and I don't think OU/UU/NU/Doubles Cups is really anything special. Swiss tournaments are super long and losers tends to just leave the event, so they give away free wins which leads to disaster. 

A calendar is nice, but it needs to be very light with only PSL and World Cup on it because nothing else deserves taking a time slot. If someone wants to host an event, he/she should be free do to so without having to deal with some calendar restrictions.

As for World Cup specifically, it needs some serious improvements. Each year it's extremely chaotic with very bad structure. The idea is always great and the execution always disappointing. 

Edited by gbwead
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3 hours ago, MknsZblex said:

I like this system:

 

- approx September/October:

PSL start 

- approx January/February:

[Big Event] start

- approx June/August:

World Cup start

 

3 big events of 2-4 month each.

 And let other players add other event during break if they want.

What other big event would you like to see? I'm not sure what kind of tournament you could host that isn't like PSL if you're not focusing on just 1 tier.

 

3 hours ago, Akaruyo said:

Speaking from my personal experience, I think ALWAYS being on a tournament on the beggining is exciting and you feel like you're actually improving, and while you may actually improve, you then get tired real fast. Sometimes the only thing you want is a break. Yes, maybe still play some games, maybe rankeds, but not having the compromise of a tournament, where you have to prep vs someone, you have to schedule and you have to actually attend to it. And right now I think some players are in like 38923 tours (Past psl, PBS, another tour that might be running I have no idea about, maybe playing on Smogon as well), so that can also be a factor for people not wanting to sign up for more tours rn.

Yes i've recently discovered that some teams run their own 'PSLs' and that's a bit... 'worrying' I guess? It takes away from the PSL as a unique event would just exhaust potential players more when the actual thing happens I think. Although there not being a 'Beginner Friendly PSL' might've caused these in-team PSLs to pop up. Again maybe we should have a beginner-entry PsL then if teams feel like a lot of their players could benefit from that?

 

3 hours ago, Akaruyo said:

I'm not sure what I would propose to try to make all this better for players. I agree having a calendar with scheduled events might be a good idea, but the problem of tours overlapping and people wanting to take a small break or just not sign up to many tours might still be there. If people is what we want, then I'd suggest promoting this to players that maybe aren't top players or thaat good, but are still into competitive and want to actually improve. Competitive level might either stay the same or decrease at the beggining, but on the long run, these new guys will get good (if they're constant I guess) and we'll get both a bigger community and a more competitive one.

 

Buffing prices could also be a more motivating factor, but I mean getting that money for other tours that aren't named PSL is quite hard lmao. 

I think the thing we have to change most is the mentality that you have to be somewhat good to enter tournaments. But again this is why Single-elims are pretty lackluster. They don't really give newer players more chances so 'why bother'. How would you propose that we reach out to newer PvP players? I'd say that, that is something competitive teams could do the best. When they get new players that they direct them to the forums and unofficials when there are new tournaments posted and encouraging them to sign up.

 

2 hours ago, gbwead said:

Donations are pretty much all the hype for big events. If you have a lot of events, the donations for each event will be smaller, so you simply can't have too much events at the same time and even in the year overall. Historically, only two events have been able to get significant donations: PSL and World Cup. For a new type of event to work, it needs to be very interesting and I don't think OU/UU/NU/Doubles Cups is really anything special. Swiss tournaments are super long and losers tends to just leave the event, so they give away free wins which leads to disaster.

As for World Cup specifically, it needs some serious improvements. Each year it's extremely chaotic with very bad structure. The idea is always great and the execution always disappointing. 

Yes prize pool seems to be the deciding factor more than anything else, and idk how Swiss rounds would actually pan out because I haven't been able to run a tournament like that yet. If someone is 0-3 and gives up, it doesn't have that much of an impact because it would be pretty difficult to make it to top cut with 2 rounds left.

 

What causes World Cups to be chaotic and how would you like to see it done in stead? I haven't been around for a WC yet.

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8 minutes ago, ThinkNicer said:

Yes prize pool seems to be the deciding factor more than anything else, and idk how Swiss rounds would actually pan out because I haven't been able to run a tournament like that yet. If someone is 0-3 and gives up, it doesn't have that much of an impact because it would be pretty difficult to make it to top cut with 2 rounds left.

If someone leaves the event before it's over, that person gives away free wins which implies a dead week for many players. This is a huge hype killer for long events.

World Cup is just a mess mostly because of team formation. There is no way for the host to verify if someone really comes from a certain country or not, so basically everyone signs up for w.e country. Some countries lack players, so they merge with the teams of other countries or worse the players of a certain country are split into other teams. Some countries have 2 teams while others only one team. If one team of a specific country is disqualified or eliminated, the players of that team are allowed to merge with the other team of the same country. Team formation in WC need to be reworked entirely. Imo, instead of the host forming teams, I believe the best approach would be to have a campaign before the event in order to decide which team will be selected for the World Cup. For instance, I could create the team "French Toast" in the club section and campaign to recruit french speaking players to join the roster for the World Cup. If we have enough players joining the club, then we get selected as one of the participating team.

We have a quantity/quality issue in the World Cup as well. Assuming there are 5 tiers per week that have to be played, if a country has 5 registered players they should theorically be able to play each week. The problem is unlike PSL where the participating players are handpicked for being reliable, the participants in the world cup are sometimes random that sign up and never show up.

Anyways, I have to go to eat, I will elaborate more later.

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19 minutes ago, gbwead said:

World Cup is just a mess mostly because of team formation. There is no way for the host to verify if someone really comes from a certain country or not, so basically everyone signs up for w.e country. Some countries lack players, so they merge with the teams of other countries or worse the players of a certain country are split into other teams. Some countries have 2 teams while others only one team. If one team of a specific country is disqualified or eliminated, the players of that team are allowed to merge with the other team of the same country. Team formation in WC need to be reworked entirely. Imo, instead of the host forming teams, I believe the best approach would be to have a campaign before the event in order to decide which team will be selected for the World Cup. For instance, I could create the team "French Toast" in the club section and campaign to recruit french speaking players to join the roster for the World Cup. If we have enough players joining the club, then we get selected as one of the participating team.

We have a quantity/quality issue in the World Cup as well. Assuming there are 5 tiers per week that have to be played, if a country has 5 registered players they should theorically be able to play each week. The problem is unlike PSL where the participating players are handpicked for being reliable, the participants in the world cup are sometimes random that sign up and never show up.

Seems like mostly a problem of organization like you said, but also a soft hand from the hosts themselves. I'd say that there definitely should be a limit of 1 team per country. Like a normal World Cup, even if you have many players, it just means you have to be that much better to end up on the roster. An exception could maybe be NA, as it's basically a continent counting as one country. Splitting it up into West and East seems fair. Merging into other teams should ofc just never happen. Your approach seems to be good, you basically need to select the team managers from the start and then that manager will just have to work it out for themselves in a week or two. As for quantity over quality, I think that also depends largely on the structure of the event. Don't ask for 2LC players while also asking for 2OU players for example, as LC players are just too rare to ever justify 2 slots dedicated to it.

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I am not a big PokeMMO player so take what I am saying with a grain of salt. However I have ran and continue to help run tournaments in other Pokemon MMO's and have run leagues in other games for quite some time so have a bit of experience with this type of thing. I think you identified two of the really big factors which hurt participation which are obviously the rewards for playing, and the effect that event fatigue has on players. The time investment required for league styled team tours can be exhausting especially for managers or top players who are required to play every week. I am 100% sure the playerbase size is not the issue, as we host regular leagues with 40+ players with 1/5th the playerbase. 

 

I think following a smogon esque schedule could lend itself over your proposed timeline just due to familiarity. We have had a lot of success doing snake draft tours, which are obviously similar to PSL but can be considered it's own tentpole event.

 

Alternatively you could host circuit styled tournaments leading to some kind of grand tournament as a way to build up hype but still have continuity. I personally do not like swiss or round robin style non team tournaments just due the high time requirement and exhaustion it puts on players. Having to play 5+ games consecutively in a weekend where you aren't actively progressing through a bracket is hard for me to personally be motivated to do. 

 

Once again excuse my ignorance around MMO but the lack of a proper "hub" outside of this forum board I think hurts you guys a lot(This might exist I am just not familiar with it). Having a central discord for all unofficial tours that is active will help out a lot, as the forums are quite dead imo. In the game I run tours for having a central discord for all of the unofficial tournaments and discussions around PvP helped foster a PvP community outside of just guilds/teams and is pretty cool despite all the nonsense trashtalk that goes on. 

 

Overall I am fairly surprised that you are having problems getting people to sign up because of how large the PvP playerbase is on here, but would guess it comes down to some combination of lack of exposure and lack of funding for players. I doubt fatigue is as big a factor as many people like to mention. If the prize is big enuf people will find the time/motivation.

 

 

Edited by Dontea
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7 hours ago, gbwead said:

World Cup is just a mess mostly because of team formation. There is no way for the host to verify if someone really comes from a certain country or not, so basically everyone signs up for w.e country. Some countries lack players, so they merge with the teams of other countries or worse the players of a certain country are split into other teams. Some countries have 2 teams while others only one team. If one team of a specific country is disqualified or eliminated, the players of that team are allowed to merge with the other team of the same country

Shame

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17 hours ago, Dontea said:

Once again excuse my ignorance around MMO but the lack of a proper "hub" outside of this forum board I think hurts you guys a lot(This might exist I am just not familiar with it). Having a central discord for all unofficial tours that is active will help out a lot, as the forums are quite dead imo. In the game I run tours for having a central discord for all of the unofficial tournaments and discussions around PvP helped foster a PvP community outside of just guilds/teams and is pretty cool despite all the nonsense trashtalk that goes on. 

 

Overall I am fairly surprised that you are having problems getting people to sign up because of how large the PvP playerbase is on here, but would guess it comes down to some combination of lack of exposure and lack of funding for players. I doubt fatigue is as big a factor as many people like to mention. If the prize is big enuf people will find the time/motivation.

You're absolutely correct that PokeMMO doesn't have a main hub for players to come together anymore. Forums are mostly actively used by oldtimers like me. OU Tournaments have no trouble filling with with 256 players at popular times, but we barely get any traction on viability rankings on forums or tournament signups for that matter. Most of these players and a lot of well known ladder/tournament players do not visit the forums. With BlueBreath I already have moved the viability ranking discussion to Discord and while we still don't see the activity you'd expect based on the size of the pvp community, the activity has certainly increased.

 

The next step would be, like you said, to create a hub for unofficial tournaments to be hosted that doesn't rely on the forums mainly. Einstein is already doing this with his 'Einstein tournaments' that are posted on his discord, only the largest tournaments also get posted on the forums. Having a more general hub, where many other hosts could announce their tournaments, would be ideal. Maybe I'll try setting something like that up, then a combination of forum posts and discord server usage could maybe help us reach more people.

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36 minutes ago, ThinkNicer said:

Forums are mostly actively used by oldtimers like me. OU Tournaments have no trouble filling with with 256 players at popular times, but we barely get any traction on viability rankings on forums or tournament signups for that matter. Most of these players and a lot of well known ladder/tournament players do not visit the forums.

Forums and discord have a pretty big language barrier. Most of the PvP english speaking community visit forum and discord, it's everyone else that doesn't because there is no point for them to do so. In the case of the chinese community, I believe very few of them have access to discord. 

 

Anyone that intends to host a big event probably needs to present that event in at least english, spanish and chinese.  

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49 minutes ago, gbwead said:

Forums and discord have a pretty big language barrier. Most of the PvP english speaking community visit forum and discord, it's everyone else that doesn't because there is no point for them to do so. In the case of the chinese community, I believe very few of them have access to discord. 

 

Anyone that intends to host a big event probably needs to present that event in at least english, spanish and chinese. 

We have chinese players on our discord, given they speak english but def have access to discord if they want it. 

 

Edit: Would also add that having 2 many different discord that are similair but separate will be confusing and reduce participation. If you could merge with einstein or ur viability discord it could help as well. 

Edited by Dontea
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4 hours ago, gbwead said:

Forums and discord have a pretty big language barrier. Most of the PvP english speaking community visit forum and discord, it's everyone else that doesn't because there is no point for them to do so. In the case of the chinese community, I believe very few of them have access to discord. 

 

Anyone that intends to host a big event probably needs to present that event in at least english, spanish and chinese.  

True to an extent, but I think it's undeniable that Discord makes PvP more accessible than the barely used forums. Like the vaibility that now actually gets some discussion now and then, the threads are basically dead on the forums. Round Table isn't used anymore, people use team servers for that. So that is where the communication has shifted to and I guess we need to move with it partially. I think the forums are still very valuable for documentation and to have as a reference point to link to. Like simply having the general threads and match threads in there.

 

Maybe doing what Dontea suggested is a good move. Having the PvP on a main server, viability + tours. I guess the question is do you keep big tournaments like PSL and WC in a separate server or do you keep them all in one place. The nice thing about Disc is that it is super customizable so if tournament like PSL aren't ongoing, you can simply make it so people are unable to chat in those channels until the next season starts.

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